Reviewed by: Jason Murphy
How can we know there’s a God? Answer
What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer
If God made everything, who made God? Answer
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
Should I save sex for marriage? Answer
How can I deal with temptations? Answer
How far is too far? What are the guidelines for dating relationships? Answer
What are the consequences of sexual immorality? Answer
VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer
Starring: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter, Meat Loaf, Jared Leto, Zach Grenier, Eion Bailey, Ezra Buzzington | Director: David Fincher | Writing credits: Chuck Palahniuk (novel), Jim Uhls
“We are the middle children of history. We have no unifying cause. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our Great War is a spiritual war. Our Great Depression is our lives.”
—Tyler Durden, waiter, underground cult leader, anarchist extrordinaire
“Fight Club” is probably the definitive film of generation X, Y (or whatever generations people under the age of 35 belong to). It is shocking, disturbing, possibly dangerous. But I haven’t seen any film recently (even “American Beauty”) that explores the ills and shortcomings of our society so intelligently and so well.
Edward (I’d like to thank the Academy…) Norton gives a phenomenal performance as the nameless narrator of the film. He’s a wage slave for a major automobile company, disgusted with his job (he calculates the cost of auto recalls; if the cost of recalls is more than the probable out of court settlement, the company keeps the dangerous cars on the road). Feeling alienated from everyone, he frequents cancer support groups for fellowship (when people think you’re dying, they give you their complete attention). However, his life takes a turn for the weird when he meets two people: Marla Singer, another support group “tourist”, who threatens to expose him, and Tyler Durden (Pitt), an anarchic genius. Tyler taps into the frustration of young disenfranchised males, starting up underground fight clubs.
At fight club, men pair off and beat each other in a cathartic release of their frustrations. Soon, Tyler is starting up fight clubs all over the country, building up a cult-like army with which he can overthrow the consumer society he so vehemently decries.
Technically, this movie is as close to flawless as they come. The three lead actors (Norton, Pitt, Carter) all give top-notch performances. Enough said.
What is much more interesting (and disturbing) about this movie are the ideas driving it. “Fight Club” is full of horrifying violence, but I do not believe that it is gratuitous or mindless. Nor does “Fight Club” glorify the violence it portrays. With tragedies like Columbine occurring semi-regularly in our society now, “Fight Club” could not be more timely. It strives to show where the violence comes from, what makes it attractive to the individuals responsible for it. Tyler, in one of his many philosophy-laced monologues, says “we’re all raised by television to believe that one day, we’re all going to be millionaires, movie gods and rock stars… but we won’t. And we’re figuring that out now.” In the face of this society, many people feel impotent, unable to change their lives. They feel owed. And, like it or not, violence is one way to exert at least a small amount of control over the people around them, if only for a brief time.
There are many lines and ideas in “Fight Club” that hit the nail on the head. Unfortunately, many other parts of the movie are exceedingly dark and offensive. There is sex and nudity both implied (through sound) and shown onscreen (including a frame of a picture, seen twice, of an erect penis). A lot of profanity. And the other part of Tyler’s worldview, though not fully espoused by the movie as a whole, is exceedingly nihilistic. Not that the nihilism is particularly surprising; it seems to be rampant everywhere in today’s society in many different forms. One exchange: “Your father was your model for God. And if your father bails out, what does that tell you about God? Our fathers were our models for God. My dad bailed on me; just walked away from the family when I was six.” Unfortunately, God is the last place these people think of looking.
“Fight Club” is also a cautionary tale. It highlights the dangers of blindly following a figure (Tyler, here) no matter how charismatic. Comparisons to the rise of fascism are totally justified. Here is also the real danger of the film. Those going to films as pure entertainment will probably not feel the need to analyze the themes running through “Fight Club”, and hence could walk out buying Tyler Durden’s nihilism hook, line and sinker; many of his arguments are pretty persuasive.
I’m guessing that this movie really won’t resonate with people above the age of 40, but many between the ages of 20 and 30 will really be able to identify with a lot of the feelings here. And I think it’s a movie most people should steer clear of. Especially if you are not willing to really analyze and think about the film when the lights come up. “Fight Club” is definitely a film that demands it.